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Jeb Bladine: Holiday wishes, in print and online

Here at the News-Register, we spend most of our time creating, producing and delivering local stories and advertising displays printed on paper. Our Oregon Lithoprint division has a warehouse full of different shades and weights of paper stock, and a 20-year-old Goss offset press that will run for decades if we can keep feeding it.

However, we increasingly look over our shoulder — and off into the future — at the ever-growing reach of digital communications. The Internet has revolutionized media, infiltrating every corner of our operations and creating all manner of financial challenges and opportunities.

“Print” — as displayed boldly on some company T-shirts — “Is Not Dead.” Printing for ourself and others still represents the overwhelming volume of our work, but we try not to let the digital world pass us by.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

With that in mind, here are a few 2016 tidbits about our newspaper website, which broadly extends our communication of local news and advertising:
There are more than 2,100 active subscribers. Most, about 1,800, are newspaper subscribers who augment their home print delivery with free online access. Others have online-only subscriptions ranging from one day to 12 months.

That means fewer than 25 percent of regular News-Register readers have active website accounts. Despite the amazing growth of social media and other digital information systems, a majority of people who care most about local news still want to read information on paper rather than on computer screens and smartphones.

Still, the signs of changes mount up.

This year we added nearly 5,000 articles to our digital archive, which now numbers about 160,000 entries going back to 1999. All website subscribers can search that deep trove of recent history, but the most active archive users are our newspaper reporters and editors.

Those 5,000 articles drew about 2,500 online reader comments this year, the majority from a small group of regular commenters who engage in spirited exchanges. Recently, two online articles drew outpourings of 70 and 110 comments, respectively, related to the pros and cons of national politics and President-elect Donald Trump.

The most-read online article in December was a report on the closure of Cornerstone Coffee. Perhaps that explains why a half-price coffee coupon is No. 5 on the all-time list of items purchased through our website. And speaking of online commerce, about $100,000 in annual subscription revenue now gets paid directly through our website, which helps reduce postal costs.

Some things don’t change. So, whether you’re reading this in print or online, have a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year!

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

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